Africa is wired into Clinton Friedman’s creative brain.
Not, ever, the clichés: the big 5, the vast sunsets. From student days in Durban, the beginning of his art and design career, he’s always focused on the intrinsic finer details. The patterns and textures, the shapes. The light and shade which he pulls out of a carefully selected wild banana leaf, a beetle, a thorny branch, a decaying leaf, a rock, a shell, a bloom, a tree… and transforms into a unique reflection of his environment. A clintonfriedman image.
His first solo photographic exhibition in 2003 - the antique, intricate botanical print revisited, re-imagined, re-born - had an impact that reverberated locally and internationally, launching his career as a creative visionary.
But you can’t pigeonhole Clinton Friedman. You could try, but the minute you’ve got him neatly classified he bursts out of the box to pursue a new inspiration, explore a new direction, re-invent himself, his work, his art footprint. And often, paradoxically, this involves going back, to his own body of work. To the direction he began to explore decades ago, as a visual arts student in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Clinton is a surfer, a hiker, and a gravel biker; a gardener and plantsman; a book designer-publisher; a woodworker; a lover of travel and food. Indian Ocean waves, sub-tropical forests and the coastal city of Durban’s gritty, sunny humidity, are his natural habitat and inspiration. He believes he would be unable to make his work if he lived anywhere else. All the subject matter is there, he says, he needs only to polish it.
His focus has always been on capturing “The One Image”. The essence of whatever, (and whoever, in his food story books), he is photographing. The one 'whole plant'. The single strelitzia bloom. Authentic, real. Utterly simple, but intricately detailed, when you look, and see what he has seen.
His ability to move these images out of the confining space of an art gallery and make themavailable to a much wider audience, while preserving their singularity – the clintonfriedman brand signature - has been remarkable. His range has grown from art prints to books, textiles, homeware (including award-winning rugs), fashion garments and accessories. And from an all-local business to include a joint venture with a Swedish company, and exports worldwide. All his products, except for his silk scarves, are, however, made in Africa, using mostly local materials.
"Respecting and sharing the goodness of nature is the driving force of this visionary artpreneur.
Artist/photographer/designer Clinton Friedman’s first collection of botanical images in 2003 was a statement of intent that has come to define his aesthetic style: the ability to explore the intersection of seemingly contradictory elements. His work is a celebration, a keenly refined point of view, of our natural world – both its imperfections and its classical beauty.
His work, and his considered range of products, transcend artifice in favour of simplicity, forgo trend in favour of timelessness. The clintonfriedman brand is bold, graphic, honest, and distinctive.